Whether it’s stubbing a toe or bumping into a piece of furniture, injuries at home are common and can cause more serious harm as people age. Nearly 80,000 older adults are hospitalized each day because of a fall, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, and many of these injuries happen in tubs or showers. Finding ways to prevent falls would not only save pain and suffering, but could reduce much of the $3.4 billion health-care costs associated with falls according to the charity Parachute.
Grab bars, bathmats and other assistive devices can improve bathing safety and are often recommended by health-care professionals to help people with mobility limitations. But current clinical bathing equipment recommendations are based only on clinical experience and client perceptions of safety and ease of use, not clinical evidence. There is also little information on where grab bars and assistive devices are best installed.
VHA’s $450,000 grant from the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) will help develop evidence-based recommendations for preventing falls and improving safety during bathing transfers and will help clinicians better advise on bathroom safety. VHA research will help in the development of national building codes and provide clinical practice recommendations to occupational therapists.
VHA’s research team is excited to be working with leading clinicians and policy makers to support aging-in-place strategies that will positively impact building planning and prevent falls.